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Arts + CultureMusicUnder the Stars: A quick check-in with the incredible...

Under the Stars: A quick check-in with the incredible Lætitia Sadier

From Stereolab to Noise Pop, she still charms. Plus: chokecherry, Angelo Outlaw, Caroline Polachek, more great music

I was helping a buddy of mine move. He and his girlfriend were breaking up, and he needed a
hand moving, what else, records. And that’s when I saw it. Stereolab, Dots and Loops. Just
sitting out, propped up, daring me to pick it up.

“Oh, you don’t have this?” asked Glenn. “Then take it. You need it.”

Now Glenn was a tricky, slippery trickster of a dude. But in this instance, I was willing to take his
word. Plus, my arms were getting tired, and I had enough of Capp Street for one day.

So I got home, popped it on the turntable—and off of the first listen, this record lived in my head for years. I found myself playing “Brakhage” in the middle of a well-paid and very well-attended hip-hop gig, just because folks needed a gust of fresh air amidst all the aggro posturing. Did I know if it would work?

I had no idea. And in that era of hip-hop, it was dangerous. Like, bottles thrown at DJs, harmful and dangerous if the tracks didn’t meet certain quotas.

But I knew my dance floors had “music heads” scattered about.

So about two and a half minutes in, it took off, in the most joyful “Yo, WTF is that, Mang?” type of reception.

I started playing random songs—”Miss Modular” and “Diagonals”—at various happy hours I DJed at around The City, and soon I had newfound friends and aficionados, and we were all worshipping at the altar that is Stereolab.

Those pale and seafoam green vinyl records continued my education through different “alternative” and “indie” record titles over at Mod Lang record store in the East Bay.

Between the calmness of Lætitia Sadiers’ voice and journeys into French New Wave, German krautrock, and Moog-dominated charts, I was stuck. Transported to a proxy reality that had smooth edges and French words.

This was the alternative-alternative section of the record store, and I liked it.

Lætitia Sadier begins the US leg of her tour supporting her first solo album in seven years, Rooting For Love, at The Chapel in San Francisco, as part of the 31st annual Noise Pop Music Festival with local support provided by Seablite. Grab tickets here.

We were able to chat with her for a bit and are very appreciative of her taking time from her very busy schedule.

48 HILLS Hi Laetitia. We’re looking forward to seeing you again in SF. Where are you based these days?

LAETITIA SADIER Thanks. I’m in London, UK.

48H What location always gives you a sense peace and purpose?

LS I like Tenerife in the Canary Islands. But it feels like there is nowhere one can escape reality!

48H What arts-related item is currently at the top of your conversation list with friends?

LS The place of art in helping shape and transform the old narratives and paradigms.

48H You are such an explorer when it comes to music, and have brought so much music to peoples’ attention over the decades. What albums are you pulling inspiration from lately?

LS I like Manuela’s album called Manuela on Lost Map because it is a perfect pop LP: sensitive, intelligent, and with the right amount of arrogance.

An old favorite is A Tábua de Esmeralda by Jorge Ben because no matter how I feel it is guaranteed to make me feel even better.

Jeff Parker’s The New Breed because he expanded his comfort zone once again, and that is inspiringly daring.

I love Malouma’s LP Nour—the voices of Arabia, particularly female voices, have a blend of strength and suffering, and are deeply moving.

And then, The Solution Is Restless by Joan As Police Woman—infinitely elegant and soothing. I’m thankful for this beautiful work.

Thank you for your time, Lætitia Sadier!

But in the meantime… It’s Under The Stars, babe. A quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, opinions, and other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes and thinking outside the margins.

 Let’s go to a show! Buy some vinyl! Be an active participant in the plethora of art around you at your earliest convenience! GO GET IT!

KINGMAKERS OF OAKLAND (KOO), ROYALTY (KINGMAKER MUSIC)

Oakland-based hip-hop trio Kingmakers of Oakland, which features Alonzo Henderson, aka Zo1, emcee Amari Chatmon aka AMARI, and emcee Kahli aka 42k-lil, have released their third project, Royalty. The lead single “Glisten”—a chest-out dart, filled with head-nod proficiency—is fueled with boom-bap production from Oakland’s own Drew Banga, a self-proclaimed “do-it-all, in every sense of the word” producer, artist, and in-demand bass player. That in-studio finesse gives way for these Oakland artists to speak stories that uplift The Town and the community that resides therein.

The non-profit Kingmakers of Oakland is an award-winning organization that supports school districts around the country to improve the educational and life outcomes of Black Boys. Chris Chatmon founded Kingmakers of Oakland following the success of the African American Male Achievement (AAMA) program he led for Oakland Unified School District which was recognized by the White House as one of the 25 leading programs to improve educational outcomes for Black boys.

Purchase music here.

CAROLINE POLACHEK, “COMA”

Caroline Polachek was first brought to my attention at Outside Lands 2021, that first year after COVID-19, when I randomly started talking to an older gentleman who was in attendance with his son just to see Polachek perform. I did not understand at the time the fascination, but now I have a better idea.

On her deluxe edition of Desire, I Want To Turn Into You, “Polachek has now pushed the sonic hallmarks of the original album into even more exaggerated extremes,” states the press release.

The emotional drum & bass track ‘Coma,’ which is an extended rework of Default Genders’ “Pharmacoma (for Ben Deitz),” does the thing that only sublime jungle tracks can do: Make a pop song soar with newfound elevation. As Polachek sings about “If this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up,” intricate polyrhythms and full-on drum and bass bombast make the arrangement—with a full breakdown and build-up—turn into a dancefloor wrecker, full of elation, with the most delicate vocal enunciations.

“Jungle Polachek” is noted in the YouTube comments section.

Simply put, it’s a delightful surprise.

Purchase it here.

ANGELO OUTLAW, “SPEED OF LIGHT” (ERASERHOOD SOUND)

Right off the rip, Angelo Outlaw, a mallet percussionist and poet from Philadelphia, showcases his Eraserhood Sound signature synth and soul production. This talented musician is playing from specific realms that evoke nostalgia, history, and an incredibly funky vibe.

“Speed of Light” is a time-bending breakbeat affair, featuring flutes, accented vibes, and meticulously crafted guitar wah-wah sensations. These elements come together to create a deep shag rug feel that only skilled arrangers can achieve, without resorting to cheap tactics.

According to the press release, Angelo and the Eraserhood Sound house band truly venture into the cosmos and back. Extraordinary debut arrangements from Outlaw, a young gay Black man who hopes to serve as an inspiration to others who might be perceived as different or other. His work transcends race, creed, religion, and politics, and has the power to speak to the universality of time, space, and human connection.

Pre-order here.

chokecherry AT BOTTOM OF THE HILL, MARCH 1, NOISE POP

I’m always hesitant to hear about an artist or band that has “buzz”. It just feels like a low-catching tactic.

So while I was glancing through SF GATE and saw that chokecherry was SF’s buzziest band, I thought, here we go again. Well, turned out I was wrong. Big wrong.

“Glass Jaw,” the band’s single from last May, sounds big-budget professional. Not overblown or overproduced. Just melodic, catchy, and yet still very original. All the terms come out. Grunge, shoegaze, dopamine, and more importantly, nostalgia.

Let me tell you, “Glass Jaw” is the epitome of reserved exceptionalism.

Throughout the hazy, black pearl atmosphere that wisps and cruises throughout the track, not one note feels forced or reaching. From the drumstick and melodic guitar intro, everything moves disciplined, with careful intent.

Right down to the cooler-than-you axe solo within the first section of the song.

Core members Izzie Clark and E. Scarlett Levinson met on the dating app Hinge.

Shortly thereafter, they decided to form a band.

And that’s some San Francisco shit.

chokecherry, very much worthy of all the buzz, is playing on a stacked bill on March 1 as part of the Noise Pop festival, and I guarantee the next time they play the festival, they will be the headliner.

Grab tix here.

4STAR THEATER’S CELEBRATION OF ENNIO MORRICONE, MARCH 1-MARCH 14

I remember the first time I heard the opening notes of Ennio Morricone’s theme for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It baffled me because Clint was in cowboy attire and not cruising around in a busted truck, sipping on a warm can of suds with a chimp, bare-knuckle fighting. In those flicks (because that’s what they were) with the word “Any” in the title. That is what he did.

Wait, Clint is a cowboy in the desert? Did I not pay my cable bill?

Different Clint.

But then, from watching Twin Peaks, I came to understand what composer Angelo Badalamenti had done with David Lynch for Twin Peaks, is what Ennio Morricone did for Sergio Leone. This score, wild and naturalistic, was another character, in some respects the main storyteller who did not use words.

This March the 4-Star Theater honors Morricone with “A Fistful of Music”—it’s a doozy of a series that pairs Ennio with some of his greatest projects. Many of these screenings will include special introductions by Bay Area writers, and the March 8th double feature of The Thing and The Humanoid will be accompanied by live sets from DJ Robodog (Utrillo Kushner from Howlin’ Rain and Comets On Fire) who will be DJing from his large Morricone soundtrack collection.

If you love film and sound, the 4-Star is the place for you in the first half of March.

Purchase tickets here.

Peek at the schedule: 

Friday, March 1:  ENNIO (4:30); CINEMA PARADISO (7:30)

Saturday, March 2:  FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (2:00), ENNIO (4:00), FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (7:00)

Sunday, March 3:  ENNIO (3:00), THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY (6:00)

Wednesday, March 6:  ENNIO (4:30), DAYS OF HEAVEN (7:30)

Thursday, March 7:  ENNIO (4:30), ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (7:30)

Friday, March 8:  DJ UTRILLO KUSHNER (Comets On Fire): 6-7:30, THE THING (7:30), DJ UTRILLO 9:30-10:00, THE HUMANOID (10:00)

Sunday, March 10:  THE HATEFUL EIGHT (NOON), ENNIO (3:30), DJANGO UNCHAINED (7:00)

Monday, March 11:   TIE ME UP, TIE ME DOWN (6:00 pm), FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (8:00 pm)

Wednesday, March 13:  ENNIO (4:30), THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (7:30)

Thursday, March 14:  ENNIO (4:30), THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (7:30)

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

John-Paul Shiver
John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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